First up was a guided tour of The Surveyer's House, a replica of the Brewster School, the school house where Laura and her sisters went to school in DeSmet, and the house that Pa built in DeSmet after Laura was grown and married. The children enjoyed a school house complete with dress up clothes, slates and lots of other fun children's activities.
After a picnic lunch, we headed out to the Ingalls Homestead which Pa almost waited too long to file on in the book "By The Shores Of Silver Lake". There were so many things to do and see there! The only "original" things there are 5 cottonwood trees that Pa planted, but they've put up a replica sod house/dugout, claim shanty, barn with sod roof, house built to the dimensions of Pa's house on the claim, school house and more.
There were lots of hands on exhibits - doing laundry with a scrub board and old crank wringer, making rope, twisting hay, making corn cob dolls, using a hand pump, trying out a treadle sewing machine, a pump organ and more! You could take a wagon ride across the prairie to the school house where they did a little school demonstration. You could climb up to the hay mow and hunt for kittens, pet the horses and baby colt and check out the chicks. If you were young enough you could enjoy a cart ride or a pony ride.
So many fun things in one day! Here were our favorites:
Chris - The Surveyor's House. Seeing the ACTUAL building that Laura ran ahead of Pa and Ma to check out. The house has been moved into town close to the museum, but it's all exactly as Laura saw it! And after seeing their other houses you can easily understand why this house looked like a Mansion to them!!
Bethany - The original buildings but also the replicas and seeing the actual size of their houses. I'd stand in the doorway and try to imagine being Ma and making this tiny little room (which is really all the dugout and shanties were) work! I thought we live in a small house with a family of five but ours would have been in the Mansion class! They lived with soooo much less back then and I have to wonder if they weren't happier in many ways.
Isaac: The DeSmet school house. Also the ACTUAL building, although it had been used as a house at one point and then returned back to a school by the Museum. Their careful re-furbishing uncovered original chalkboards under layers of wall paper! It was in that very school that Laura "rocked that bench" for Miss Wilder :)
Jasmine: The Tour. All the original buildings and items were the best part of all.
Jennifer: Driving the pony on the cart ride, and riding on the little pony!!
Lillian: The covered wagon ride!
We finished off the day with the DeSmit pageant. It was a much more amateur performance - smaller and shorter and not the best quality - but good for a laugh and some memories at any rate :) Our lovely motel room with 3 queen beds felt quite luxurious at day's end!
Photos: 1) "rocking the desk" in the school where it happened. 2) dress up time. 3) covered wagon ride and Laura's prairie and sky. 4) our littlest trooper.